doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.12 Published online 28 January 2013
Scientists have successfully sequenced 90 cultivated and wild genotypes of the humble chickpea Cicer arietinum1.
A global team including Indian scientists has identified about 28,269 genes of chickpea after sequencing CDC Frontier, a kabuli (large-seeded) chickpea variety. They re-sequenced additional varieties from 10 countries to come up with millions of genetic markers and low diversity genome regions that may be used in the development of superior varieties with enhanced drought tolerance and disease resistance.
The researches have highlighted candidate genes for disease resistance and agronomic traits, including those that distinguish the two main market classes of cultivated chickpea — desi and kabuli. This data will help molecular breeding programmes and provide insights into both genome diversity and domestication.
The sequencing will help chickpea farmers face the threat of climate change with more resilient varieties. The genome map can also be used to harness genetic diversity by broadening the genetic base of cultivated chickpea genepool, according to Rajeev Varshney, one of the scientists involved in the international project.
At the moment, it takes 4-8 years to breed a new chickpea variety. Sequencing could reduce this time to half for new varieties with market-preferred traits.